Zero Waste Bridal Shower


My sister got married last weekend. She was a beautiful bride and had lots of ideas to make her shower and wedding zero-waste! Things didn't turn out as trash-free as we hoped, but we did a few things to lessen our footprint:

Invitations

I originally considered Paperless Post, which didn't suit the crowd of older, not-so-internet-savvy guests, and young women who never check their email. Instead, I decided on heart-shaped tea bags stitched with organic cotton thread and filled with lavender, my sister's favorite. I packaged them in reused materials, but the FDA destroyed everything stateside. Running out of time, I ordered Minted stationery- thick, gorgeous 100% post-consumer waste manufactured with wind power. When I arrived in the US, I happily learned many guests saved the invites as keepsakes.  

  

Food

One of the highlights of my sister's Eurotrip was tea at Harrods. Months in advance, I asked friends to save their prettiest tea tins, filled with the same bulk leaves served in the Georgian Room. A local favorite, Mason's Creamery, scooped tea-flavored ice creams into my own jars, which we displayed in a champagne bucket filled with ice from a machine, not a plastic bag. The hand-cut marshmallows and lavender macarons are from Philomena Bake Shop. I made several vegan, gluten-free dishes, including lavender cupcakes and cake, blueberry scones, and vitelotte salad using bulk ingredients. My mom provided homemade rainbow bubble tea, while talented friends brought lavender lemonade, meringues, giant macarons, and chocolate-covered strawberries in reusable containers. Instead of tea sandwiches, one bridesmaid arranged mason jars full of homemade spreads for flaky croissants. We used hand-rolled butter, milk, and cream from a local dairy, returning the glass bottles for deposit. I purchased deli meats package-free from a salad bar and bought zero-waste organic produce and raw honey from Red Wagon Farm, which strains honey straight into a mason jar for return or re-use.

   

Decor

We were determined to use what we already had and borrow / buy used when necessary. My sister loaned us her vintage collection of Depression glass snack sets and white linen napkins. She also gave me reusable metal tags and old photo frames for signage. I made another batch of heart-shaped teabags in hand-sewn silk organza bags for favors. It wasn't vegan, and the material likely came from China, but I don't know what's worse- silk, or it's plastic alternative, polyester. As it was, the secondhand tablecloths were polyester :( Most of the wrapping paper went into trash or recycling. Some guests got into the zero-waste theme and gave gifts in reusable shopping bags or baskets. Two friends used fresh hydrangeas instead of bows, which smelled great and looked gorgeous.

 
 

A bridesmaid contributed leftover table signs from her wedding, and between my mom and the groom's mom, we had enough teacups for everyone, including a few Limoges pieces. I thrifted milk glass and silver, borrowing Anchor Hocking crystal from family members. We cut flowers from my grandma's garden the morning of. My sister preserved the bouquets after.

The only trendy, Pinterest-y thing we did was hang a giant fabric strip garland made from thrifted / repurposed materials. Instead of centerpieces, vintage books and mason jars held clothespins displaying photos of the couple. The finishing touches? My mom's Victorian era-parasols suspended from trees, Battenberg doilies on the tables, and lace-covered nesting boxes. We served mostly finger foods, providing metal teaspoons for each guest, but I bought palm leaf plates and Birchware, which one bridesmaid took home to compost. The utensils can be used several times before composting. Once biodegraded, they provide rich lignin for soil.

 

My sister looked amazing in a gorgeous vintage-inspired dress. She was so happy! Everyone thought the food was catered and people said it was "elegant," and "European," which made me smile. If you're serving tea for a big crowd, plan on at least three cups per person. My sister wanted metal infusers to reduce waste; unfortunately, the ones we ordered never arrived. Cloth sachets and thrifted teapots worked in a pinch. Our hot water station was a plastic-free vintage Maxwell House percolator from the 1950s, so each guest could help themselves. My sister kept saying how much she loved it. We tried to give her the best send-off possible!

P.S. Click to sign The Bare Necessities' petition for the USDA to ban the use of plastic packaging in organic produce.

Paris to Go

20 comments:

  1. I'm so happy you're posting again! Where did you find the serving dishes for the macaron? They look just like flowers. I love them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ji, thanks! Good to hear from you. I'm very proud of those serving dishes- the flower petal looking plates are from an old Anchor Hocking set my grandma had for thirty plus years. They were originally part of a three tiered stand but we couldn't find the connector pieces so I stood them on crystal candlesticks my mom got at a thrift store. I didn't glue them or anything, I just rested them on top. The groom's mom thought they were really cute too!

      You can barely tell from the pictures (I took no pictures during the shower, these are just shots I stole from my sister and grandma), but some of my mom's handmade teacups looked like flowers too. The saucers were made to look like petals and the teacups rested in the center like blue daffodils. They had an inscription from the maker carved into the bottom, from the 1960s.

      Delete
  2. Hi Ariana! I, too, am ecstatic to find a new post here. My wedding is in February and I'd love to see some zero waste tips! How did you like the palm leaf plates? Do you have a close-up picture or a link to buy them? I'm looking into Birchware and am curious to see which pattern you chose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tara, you may find this post (and its sister "part 2" post) interesting: http://treadingmyownpath.com/2015/01/06/a-low-waste-low-footprint-wedding/

      Delete
    2. Hi Tara! I just added links above. The palm leaf plates were great, packaged in cellophane and cardboard, and you can put them in the microwave or oven and reuse them three times before they start to fall apart. They won't get soggy with hot foods, either. I've read you can run them in the dishwasher actually but, not having a dishwasher, have not tried it. Birchware Elegant is the pattern we used. Really lovely and sturdy. You can purchase both secondhand on wedding resale sites (we used a local Facebook group for brides). I'm going to feature a close-up picture in a future post.

      Thanks for the link Darcy! I am planning on doing a zero-waste wedding post and hadn't seen that one before. Lindsey is great.

      Delete
    3. Just beautiful, Ariana, and very inspiring! Thank you for sharing and congratulations to your sister!

      Delete
  3. I was hoping you'd be back and blogging again soon! Welcome back :)

    Your sister's bridal shower looks utterly gorgeous. I know I fall into the habit of picturing zero waste being sort of hippy and granola (not that it's a bad thing or something I want to avoid), but this was utterly elegant! It's hard to believe that it was mostly zero waste as well as mostly vegan and gluten free! I'd love to know what recipe you used for the cupcakes/ scones/ cake. It's terrible that your original invites were destroyed when they reached the US :(

    I can understand your hesitation in using silk. My mom is a fiber artist and has been researching growing her own silk worms. The vast majority of the silk does involve killing the worm, but not all of it does! You can actually still use the cocoon after the moth emerges. You're left with multiple shorter strands instead of the traditionally preferable single long strand, which results in a somewhat coarser thread, but it's still very much useful. Perhaps if you're ever in a position of needing silk again you could try sourcing some that doesn't involve killing the worm?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you happen to have your mom's recipe for bubble tea, I've always wanted to know how to make it.....

      Delete
    2. Hi Cassie! Thank you so much! The cake / cupcakes was arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lavender, xanthan gum, vanilla bean, coconut milk (you can use rice or almond milk too), ACV, sugar and oil. The only change for the chocolate one was cocoa powder. It's based off of this recipe: http://localmilkblog.com/2015/01/vegan-gluten-free-chocolate-lavender-cupcakes-whipped-honey-coconut-cream.html

      My mom made the frosting with vegan, soy-free butter (recipe here: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/plant-based-recipes/homemade-vegan-butter-palm-oil-free-soy-free/), rice milk, and sugar.

      Here is the recipe for scones:
      http://thecolorfulkitchen.com/2014/08/08/vegan-blueberry-scones-gluten-free/

      That is awesome about your mom! I'm so fascinated by her occupation. I've read a little bit about peace silk, but I've heard some mixed things about the treatment of worms in the process. My mom had a great wild peace silk sarong, as you said it was coarser and less lustrous but very beautiful. In the future I'll get silk secondhand if I absolutely must use it. This was a last-minute thing because the original favors- metal infusers- didn't arrive and I panicked when I couldn't find organza at the thrift store. Sheer muslin probably would have been just as good, I just wanted everyone to see the heart shape so my vanity led me to purchasing the silk organza!

      Delete
    3. Oh! And here is the recipe for tapioca pearls:

      http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-Tapioca-Pearls-from-scratch/

      And bubble tea:

      http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-boba-and-bubble-tea-98067

      She used coconut milk for the bubble tea and she actually didn't use any measurements or recipe, but I've tried both these recipes and they were easy to follow and accurate.

      Delete
  4. lovely shower. do you have a picture of the heart shaped tea bags? i would love a diy post on that project! -savanna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Savanna! I hope these show up:

      [img]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/joPSBgsQhxo9mOzRP-4tMjcw268dZWeFTjxN5PBJodE_PyDYpqlNFw9AXUto7t-2NJlpWggOZkNlGBd38klmS66xL5GH1wLne9Zdm0h2KPGbbYnM4avaW7Q2yLhuMijUJXXulIWycHH_NSkJHPczsvM6howbRWsfdOyZRRytzpzkae51DJFU43M_zstJ_1oC0fE1As4re4PoEEPRxw-0vyX6bCM9CDetNYcc7xJlIux5dL-24-vDAd27UP7gPUd8wmrACHqXCgZJx6HqRkUxc6zpahC-9SMpmAtPMb-mJFIsambAY_6R8uZJWKJ65ozdYTTJLTSqiQsufgz25HSMa6utTZn_Cwlrjfj0epwONoeknzCzzlobnyiyLdw9o6wHfEmEfiLrmDnqNzAIdRySymcN6w8oljKk1wjl5TQxAS8AXg6IFlfkjMcI2rrAmC_HZ9Mcua1Pq6hInRbAj0US5ZL33IzmEAj-QmVIqe2q4ZWeAcSZhoLAPTHjUKlHODyRvQHSq4k2XCyWxoRANEJoKU52jhE1TpM9xnnVxAaJhCS8=w464-h620-no[/img]

      [img]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/j70ac5CjTM69WeYozP9sYm4ejo5rjRTYFPsYqXGmN3_m_fdP7T65JKwI-kcRmoyaF6-kG6x0VIaTpqqlZdAsazwX28AgdmyG9u_uo4KycwWdWaJwegKcxIWhomILT55-Q7IV_vqTMq_hnCLYf7H2-D4FRl_wRlTmucf7I-O7PLxZOKZLhOCnRvZBbjGbeMTYAxDIWJUXxsFkRM-2fy1pYuGCd5vrXQaVpv6rnn42fe4B-5Qgit6YxYd8Rar4vt7egbzGV8lWIhMNTN31Ape5SAfRRpJItzoiDF_APCvkn2x6DGnBrCXY5cz6x9XPFGHp0fUiXRj-AzDX_SXWTtWx1LSHviY25IYUxQmN5KzIzqz8FKuDgcrh-tA6__sE5Z_QyyxO_-bDm86Mg-gXeuflh_Nfa73D3ZJxZJRM7Mh6O6zqFDBqndeCUP10G7fI3oIvQc7ZQnda4J89raq0MSdUz93WOTXpghcqi-ythcP1Ts92VMW-DykYqItUfyYCllu8C_g6gQrJjJkBlBXF7tQvce8os_tO1APceeQb78LHuUU2=w464-h620-no [/img]

      Here is the tutorial:
      http://www.designsponge.com/2011/02/diy-project-valentines-tea-three-ways.html

      Delete
  5. Welcome back! Hope you had a nice respite from the blog and got inspired on many more topics. We've missed you around here!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ariana, it'd be great to read more about your wedding. Did you have it zero-waste? As for the tea party, it looks fabulous and everything must have been delicious. What were the cloth sachets made of? I've read many articles about hidden plastic in tea bags, so I'm wondering what brands you recommend for 'emergency' situations like this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS How was your experience with Minted?

      Delete
    2. Hi Gemma! Minted was great. I was really skeptical but I recommend them because they do seem to take sustainability seriously and use beautiful inks and paper. As Aimee Lee says, I'm not necessarily against paper, just junky office paper...

      The designer customized the basic design for us and they printed the addresses on the envelopes for free, which was so helpful. It's a nice service for situations like mine, where I was in one country and the bride/guests were in another. The cloth sachets were made of muslin. Mariage Freres and Laduree have plastic-free sachets but when you open up the Laduree tins there is a plastic wrapper inside. It's completely unnecessary- especially for the bulk teas; fortunately Mariage Freres lets you put tea directly into your own tins, no hidden wrapper.

      We eloped so it was just the two of us, and I wore a secondhand dress I already loved :)

      Delete
  7. if you don't mind me asking, i'd love to see a photo of the centerpieces. i think i know what you have in mind but i can't quite envision it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't mind :) I don't have good pictures but this will give you an idea! [img]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/owRLhYp2DRh_rC5ullBlnSk8eiJlaZ9KC1pRujP8Ntlba3QIsLJM35Tmn5ILVYMQueZbZhhTBJWJRpyPjjeHc5nLwly3RtJ3kWA20sy0xy8SjBkxFBbevyrYrvTCHKEXzLAN5ckWtzZXW1_FFCPthO8-c1VR2iSh3PvUNTz7kicUh8cvxZeEwpKqYumprwDmhHO-wGb2z7eJXwd7hxFtX644kbIFOlCWhiHa73OEmZJpZ43GcwoZgKAAnEuqM5wdb1378oEYY1Nktnx7ufnvczyNFrr-cs_nq7dNtqOWHLORsvjS2EFhzn5YLvt1E4pk6QJS31bfZXJIoECT7RAcuPqV4d4wGAkNwq0NW388xjkN5q8BtIgwFmYAfs6ACZ640P6HaXTCyZlyyBUTYzLPvMg7rjsETA5rYxWXv6n9CxhSTjsIvgoiHy5_NLTe_X94BCK6xaL7GD3YI1BeD3YdzmFdO1R54zkh9gHHAPlZ4CrtSaxaVQYu_UaG7Y4e7pB75Nexk1uiIKBkKWTJGnHCUGDWGKGFL5ynGSBcl8a1kU3j=w432-h576-no[/img]

      Delete